The Netherlands government has invited proposals for the long-planned Zuiderzee line. To be built with private-sector funding as a maglev or high speed line, the 180 km route is intended to halve the present 2h 30min Amsterdam - Groningen journey time.

A consortium of six Japanese firms - Hitachi, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Electric, Itochu, Marubeni and Mitsubishi - confirmed on May 14 that it was negotiating with Nanche Sifang Loco Works for a US$885m project to develop 200 km/h inter-city trains for five of Chinese Railways’ principal main lines.

Plans for an express rail link between Columbo and Bandaranaike International Airport were announced by Sri Lanka’s Transport Minister Felix Perera and Ports Minister Mangala Samaweera on May 12. A working party is to develop the scheme with Chinese assistance.

German Railway subsidiary Railion is understood to be considering a bid for Swedish national freight operator Green Cargo. Railion may also take a 49% stake in Italian operator Ferrovie Nord Cargo.

Meeting in Kampala on April 20, the Transit Transport Co-ordinating Authority discussed plans for a rail link to Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Uganda Railways Corp’s western terminus at Kasese is about 60 km from the border, but the 330 km Kampala - Kasese line is currently out of use. Other proposals under discussion include links to Moyale in southern Ethiopia, Juba in southern Sudan and creation of a railway from the Indian to the Atlantic Ocean.

Russian Railways President Gennady Fadeyev confirmed on May 17 that RZD expected to purchase 900 electric and 1224 diesel locos by 2010, at a total cost of 92bn roubles. A working party has been formed to develop the railway’s loco procurement strategy (RG 4.04 p182).

Washington DC metro operator WMATA is negotiating with the Dulles Transit Partners consortium of Bechtel and Washington Group for construction of a 37 km branch from West Falls Church to Dulles Airport, at a cost of $4bn. An earlier project collapsed when local authorities rejected funding proposals.

The Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, has backed proposals to extend the city’s light rail line from Central Station to Circular Quay through the city centre; A$200m in funding could come from the state government’s central parking levy.

Lisboa Metro and tram operator Carris are planning an orbital 18 km light rail line serving four municipalities to the north of the Portuguese capital, which would be funded and built as a PPP project.